The Impact of COVID-19 on Life and Health Insurance

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The COVID-19 crisis is impacting all of our lives, and at SC Insurance, we have been receiving questions about what it means for their own personal insurance.

The following is a review of some of the key areas, and the impact of the current crisis, along with comments or suggestions re what you should be doing to prepare.

Note: As this situation is changing rapidly, please check back for updates and changes to our information as we receive from our carriers and industry partners. Feel free to contact us anytime for clarification. Updated March 22, 2020

Life Insurance

What is it? – Life Insurance is a contract that pays a lump sum to a named beneficiary in the event of death. There are many different kinds of policies available, but most fall into one of 2 types – Term (i.e. 10 year, 20 year) or Permanent (Universal Life, Whole Life).

Am I covered? – Life Insurance policies do not have an exclusion for COVID-19. If you should pass away due to COVID-19, your existing life insurance coverage would not be denied due to COVID-19.

Can I still get new coverage? – While there may be limitations on certain amounts of coverage, we still have many solutions to provide as much as $1m or more of coverage without a medical, and from the comfort and safety of your own home. Guaranteed-issue products are still available at this time.

Tips & Considerations – This is an ideal time to review your existing coverage amounts, pricing, and even review beneficiaries to be sure everything is up-to-date. Contact us for your own personal review.

Disability Insurance

What is it? – Long-Term-Disability (LTD) is coverage that replaces your income if you are unable to work due to accident or illness. There is usually a waiting period of 90 or 120 days before benefits are paid out. Benefits are typically paid on a monthly basis, up to max age 65.

Am I Covered? – If you are actively covered by an LTD policy, and you are unable to work beyond the waiting period due to the symptoms associated with having COVID-19, then you should be eligible to submit a claim under most policies.

Can I still get new coverage? – For the time being, if you are actively working and anticipate maintaining stable income, this coverage may be available. But the insurers’ position on this is constantly changing, and could make it difficult to obtain these policies at this time.

Tips & Considerations – This is an area that is constantly changing, and you may wish to review your current coverage with us. For example, if you have coverage through a group benefit plan, and are on temporary layoff, your disability coverage may not cover you during this period of time.

Critical Illness Insurance

What is it? – These policies cover a list of serious conditions, such as Cancer, Heart Attack, Stroke, and many more. The benefit is paid out as a lump sum, whether you are working or not.

Am I covered? – Policies have a set of covered conditions, and COVID-19 is not one of the listed conditions.

Can I still get new coverage? – At the time of writing, this coverage is still available from most insurers in Canada. We have solutions to allow you to obtain coverage via electronic application, and some policies available without medical underwriting.

Tips & Considerations – We believe that this product should be included in most people’s personal financial plans. And with some of the potential challenges re LTD eligibility during this period, we believe this is a powerful solution to protect families from the financial impact of dealing with a serious illness.

Health Insurance – Group Plans

Most employee benefit plans include the following benefits:

  • Life Insurance
  • Accidental Death & Dismemberment
  • Extended Health Care
  • Dental Care

Many plans also include:

  • Long Term Disability (LTD)
  • Critical Illness
  • Health Spending Accounts & Wellness Accounts
  • Employee Assistance Plans (EAP)
  • Virtual Medical Care

Am I covered? – As long as you are actively employed, your coverage should not be impacted, and coverage for COVID-related claims should be eligible. There are restrictions re travel insurance, which are constantly changing. You should look to take advantage of any EAPs, or if your plan has Virtual Medical Care, you can consult with a nurse or Dr from the comfort of your home.

Can I still get new coverage? – Companies looking for new or competitive plans can still obtain new coverage. Plans are available for companies with as few as 1 or 2 employees.

Tips & Considerations – Anyone who is losing Benefits due to layoff, termination or any other reason is eligible for a Conversion Health Plan. You must apply within 60 days of losing your group plan coverage.

If you are on temporary layoff, and concerned that LTD coverage may not be extended during this period, there are other solutions to help protect you and your family. One example is critical illness protection (below), or you may also be eligible to convert elements of your previous coverage.

Health Insurance – Individual Plans

There are 3 types of plans that are available for those without employee benefit coverage:

  1. Conversion Plans: for those who lost group coverage within 60 days.
  2. Traditional Plans: Available with limited or no medical questions.
  3. Independent Contractor Plan: unique solution custom-tailored for contract workers.

Am I covered? – Existing Plans should not be impacted, and coverage for COVID-related claims should be eligible. There are restrictions re travel insurance, which are constantly changing.

Can I still get new coverage? – All 3 types of individual plans are currently still available.

Tips & Considerations – Whether you lost group benefit coverage, or are not eligible for group plans, there are solutions available for everyone. Independent Contractors have historically not been eligible for benefit plans. Our custom-tailored solution is available for those working on a contract basis. No medical questions, and comprehensive options including Health, Dental, Life, CI, LTD and more. If you are self-employed, or own your own business, we have solutions tailored for you.

Travel Insurance

Am I covered? – Currently Canada has imposed a ban on all non-essential travel. This means you may not leave the country until further notice unless otherwise authorized to do so. If you are currently out of the country and purchased travel insurance prior to the Canadian travel ban, your coverage will still respond to claims. We highly recommend that no Canadian travel outside of Canada until the travel ban has lifted and the borders re-open. Travel insurance is subject to change without notice, so anyone outside of Canada currently is recommended to return home as soon as possible.

Can I still get new coverage? – Travel Insurance is no longer available for COVID-19, but if you must leave the country, you can get coverage for other illnesses or accidents. If you are currently out of the country and need an extension to your current travel plan there may be options available. Your first contact should be your current travel insurance provider, either under a group or individual plan. Visitors to Canada can apply for emergency medical coverage however if they are in Canada currently there is a 48-hour waiting period for sickness. There is no coverage for COVID-19 or pre-existing conditions if unstable 180 days prior to your visit. Accident is covered at time of purchase.

Tips & Considerations – You should avoid all travel until further notice and as directed by the Canadian Government. If you find yourself out of the country currently and need an extension on your group plan or individual travel insurance, it is best to contact our office or your carrier to discuss options for coverage extensions.

Travel Insurance 2020 – Be Prepared

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OHIP No Longer Providing Out-of-Country Medical Coverage.

Effective January 1, 2020, the Government has made significant changes to OHIP’s Out-of-Country medical coverage. The provincial government is no longer providing emergency medical coverage, shifting 100% of the risk on to Ontarians. Protecting yourself with the right Travel Insurance has never been more critical.

Below is an example of some of the costs that could be associated with a broken leg while travelling in the USA:

  • $2,500 – Cast and Fracture Clinic Fees
  • $17,000 – $35,000 – Surgical treatment for setting of bones
  • $2,000 – Additional surgeon fees
  • TOTAL: $21,5000 – $39,500

For most Canadians, a medical emergency while abroad represents a significant financial risk. A typical U.S. hospital stay often exceeds several thousand dollars, and it is common to see claims for certain situations run into the hundreds of thousands, and beyond.

Understanding your options when it comes to travel insurance can be very complex and often frustrating. Searching online for travel insurance leads to an overwhelming number of options and policies, each with its own specific conditions, rates and requirements. Many people also have existing coverage provided by their Credit Cards, Group Benefit Plans, Associations or other affiliated programs.

At SC Insurance, Travel Insurance Specialist Lori Field, helps clients understand their own situation, and helps them find the right solution.

Clients can no longer rely on OHIP, so we are advising everyone more than ever to be proactive in insuring their travel.

Lori Field, Travel Insurance Specialist

Here are Lori’s top 3 tips for how you can find the right travel coverage:

1. Review Existing Coverage

Review the details of your health plan at work, or any plan associated with your credit card and identify the coverage details. Determine any gaps you need to fill with a private policy.

Many Premium Credit Cards and Group Benefit Plans provide coverage; however, you need to understand the limitations and maximums that exist and how they might impact you.

2. Identify the limitations and restrictions

Whether you have existing coverage or need to buy additional insurance, it is important to understand the impact of pre-existing conditions and stability of health and how they impact your coverage. Below are some of the key terms included in most policies. These can vary between policies, and misinterpretation of them is the primary reason for most denied medical claims.

Pre-Existing Condition
Typically defined as any sickness, injury or medical condition for which you consulted a physician, had symptoms, were hospitalized or prescribed medications within a certain period prior to the effective date of coverage. The period may vary from weeks, months and beyond.

Stability
Some plans can cover a Pre-Existing Condition if it is considered “Stable” for a certain period before your trip. To be considered Stable, there can be no change in medication, no outstanding tests or results, no new or worsening symptoms, and no new diagnosis.

Stability Period
This refers to the timeframe when the above changes took place. It is typical to see this period look back several months, and even as far back as one year. However, there are specialized products that offer a shorter stability period, even as little as 7 days.

3. Be Honest!

When applying for coverage, or asking for a coverage opinion, be sure to disclose any pre-existing conditions and medications. Otherwise, your coverage may not be valid. When in doubt, speak with your doctor on how to answer medical application questions.

The changes to OHIP’s out-of-country coverage should open everyone’s eyes to the importance of understanding your coverage and your own risks. It has never been more important to find the right protection.

SC Insurance provides clients with personalized support and assessments from our experienced team.

Contact us to discuss your travel insurance needs

travel@scinsurance.ca

Press Release: SC Insurance and RRJ Benefits Inc. Announce Exciting Venture

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Effective January 1, 2020, SC Insurance and RRJ Benefits Inc. are joining forces for continued growth and innovation in the benefits and life insurance industry.

This new venture will provide access to innovative resources and cutting-edge proprietary tools. Clients will have access to the SC Hub: a digital administration tool to manage their benefit plans on a paperless platform, as well as A.I. driven solutions to simplify the life insurance application and underwriting process.

This venture between our organizations will serve as a catalyst to expand our offering in a strategic manner. More importantly, it presents greater opportunities for all our clients and our staff, as we leverage the knowledge, experience and tools that the SC team has built, to enhance the experience for our clients and save them money at the same time.

Abraham Baboujian, Chairman and CEO of RRJ Benefits Inc.

As a result of this venture, we are delighted to be able to offer our clients best-in-class solutions across the entire insurance and risk-management landscape. SC Clients will have access to one of the most recognizable and trusted Agencies in Ontario for their commercial, home and auto insurance.

Darren Abrahams, President, SC Insurance

Jessica Bowler (née Cassano), who manages RRJ Benefits will be joining the SC Insurance as Senior Manager of Sales providing continuity to clients and the rest of the team.

For additional information contact:

Darren Abrahams at (416)259-1166   darren@scinsurance.ca

Abraham Baboujian at (416) 636-4544  abraham@krg.com

About SC Insurance

Originally founded in 1979 as Steven Cohen Insurance Agency Inc, SC Insurance has consistently remained among the most highly respected Life & Benefits agencies in the Toronto area. Current President, Darren Abrahams, has been with SC since 2004, and under his stewardship the firm has forged an exciting path, leveraging the same high-touch level of service and advice, while embracing innovation and technology to streamline and enhance each stage of the client experience.

About RRJ Benefits Inc. (RRJ Insurance Group Limited)

As one of Canada’s largest independent brokerages, RRJ has been providing Property & Casualty insurance solutions to thousands of clients across Ontario for over 110 years. RRJ has 7 offices (Toronto, Oshawa, Peterborough, Lindsay, Orillia, Bracebridge and Kitchener) and nearly 200 staff. In 2012, RRJ Benefits was introduced, providing Life Insurance and Group Benefits solutions to client within the organization.  In 2020 RRJ’s property & casualty insurance operations will be re-organized under a single brand to be called “KRGinsure”.

Preparing for Medical

Preparing for your Insurance Medical

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If you have applied for new insurance, a medical exam may be required. Most exams usually take approximately 30 minutes, and can be completed at your convenience in your home, office at a medical clinic. We will let you know what testing is required, and a Nurse or Doctor will contact you to schedule the appointment. If the person contacting you cannot accommodate your requested schedule, please DO NOT book with them, and let us know so we can find someone else who can work with your schedule.

We always suggest booking your appointment in the morning, which makes it easier to fast, and also typically is when our results are at their best. Below are some tips to help you look your best.

The Basics
  • Be well rested
  • Avoid heavy exercise 24 hours before any exam
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages for 24-48 hours, if possible.
  • Try to avoid or minimize caffeine, or excessively fatty or fried foods 24 hours prior.
  • If they will be doing blood work: wear short sleeves, or sleeves that can easily be rolled up. If possible, fast for 12 hours, with the exception of drinking water.
  • Refrain from using non-prescription and herbal supplements or non-prescribed medications for at least 24 hours.
  • Prescription medications may be continued as prescribed. Be sure to provide any prescription medication details to the nurse.
IF YOU ARE FEELING ILL, SUFFERING FROM NEW PAINS OR SYMPTOMS, OR ARE UNDER SEVERE STRESS ON EXAM DAY, YOU SHOULD RESCHEDULE YOUR APPOINTMENT.

Your appointment may also include a Paramedical Exam.

This is an interview with where the practitioner will gather information about your medical history, and typically includes obtaining your height, weight, and blood pressure. Try to prepare details of any Doctors or Clinics visited, medical consultations, tests, follow-up appointments and results where possible.

Next Steps

The results of your exam are sent to a laboratory, with the details then sent to the insurance company, where an underwriter will review them along with the information on your initial application. If you would like to have the results of any testing for your records, please let us know. We will have the insurance company share their findings with your Doctor.

Any Questions?

If you ever have any questions or concerns at all, please contact our office ASAP. Someone is always available to help you during business hours at 416.259.1166, or if it is after hours, contact Darren or Steve directly.

To receive a customized quote and talk to an advisor please click here and someone will reach out to you within one business day.

Vitality Life Insurance from Manulife

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A New Approach to Life Insurance

Do you live a healthy, active lifestyle? Shouldn’t your life insurance premiums reflect your efforts to lead a healthier life?

As a society we have more information than ever available on how to remain healthy and active well into what we traditionally called “old age”. The health and benefits industry has more data on how healthy lifestyles impact life expectancy and heath. And thanks to ongoing innovations in wearable technology, we have more ways than ever to track and share information on our own health and wellness.

It was only a matter of time until all of this information came together and life insurance premiums were positively impacted.

Manulife Brings innovation to Life Insurance

The new Vitality life insurance plan from Manulife is an innovative new rewards program available to clients who purchase a Manulife Vitality Life Insurance policy. Once approved, you receive an offer for a Free Garmin device, or the newest Apple Watch to help track your activities. As you work to improve your health, you earn Vitality Points and receive gift cards, savings on other purchases through their extensive partners, including Amazon.com, Hotels.com and GoodLife Fitness. You can also enjoy further reductions on your life insurance premiums.

Perhaps more importantly, you can also enjoy further reductions on your life insurance premiums. On each policy anniversary, your premiums are eligible to be reduced based on the number of points earned in the previous year.

Joining the program doesn’t mean that you have to become a hardcore gym rat; everyday activities generate points, and count towards earning gift cards, rewards and savings on your premiums.

Live Well, Save Money, Earn Rewards with Vitality:

Vitality rewards you for the things you do every day to stay healthy:

  • Vitality Points: earn Vitality Points by completing healthy related activities
  • Vitality Status: each year, the number of points you earn determines your Vitality Status (Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum)
  • Savings and Rewards: the higher your Vitality Status, the more you can earn towards potential savings and partner rewards (outlined below)

Best of all, Manulife has reduced their rates to make Vitality one of the lowest priced options in the life insurance industry. Click here to receive a personalized quote.

Reap the Benefits of Vitality Life Insurance

The main benefits of Manulife’s Vitality program are, of course, your own health and wellness; the peace of mind of a high quality life insurance policy; and great rates, made even better by your active lifestyle.

Beyond those, however, Vitality from Manulife offers some great rewards:

APPLE WATCH OR FREE GARMIN DEVICE – Get an Apple Watch 4 for little or no cost. Or choose a Free Garmin vívofit® 4, and start saving today!
HOTELS.COM EXCLUSIVE MEMBER DISCOUNT – Getting away is part of a healthy lifestyle. With Hotels.com you can earn up to 50% off a hotel stay based on your Vitality Rewards Status.
EXAM ONE® – Better understand your health when you choose a free annual wellness screening with a personalized report.
AMAZON.CA GIFT CARDS – Achieve weekly activity targets and spin the Vitality wheel each week for a chance to win an Amazon.ca Gift Card. For a limited time, receive an Amazon.ca Gift Card each time a higher Vitality Status is earned.
FITNESS CLUB DISCOUNT – Save 55% on an individual one-year membership at either GoodLife Fitness or Énergie Cardio fitness clubs.
Take Advantage of Vitality from Manulife

As technology and information continue to become commoditized, more and more insurance providers will create the link between premiums and healthy lifestyle measures. If you are interested in living a healthy lifestyle, want to enjoy the peace of mind of a high quality insurance policy and seeing some extra perks as well, why not take advantage of Vitality from Manulife today?

To receive a customized quote and talk to an advisor please click here and someone will reach out to you within one business day.

cost

Cost-Plus: Valuable Information for Business Owners and Executives

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If you are a Business Owner or Executive and your Company has a benefit plan, your Company could pay for your uninsured Medical or Dental Expenses.

This includes things like as Orthodontics, Major Dental, Laser Eye Surgery and other items that may not be covered under your benefit plan, as well as expenses in excess of plan limits.

This may also include excess Paramedical coverage (i.e. Chiropractor, Massage, Physiotherapy, Speech Therapy, Psychologist, etc), Glasses or Contact Lenses, and many other Medical and Dental items considered eligible under the Income Tax Act.

Cost plus is a valuable element of most employee benefit plans, as it can provide your key personnel with a tax-free benefit, using pre-tax business dollars. However, many people still don’t know that their existing plan may include this benefit already.

Any legitimate Medical or Dental expense, as defined by CRA which is limited or not covered by your plan, may be eligible. Common examples are Paramedical amounts (Chiropractor, Massage, Physiotherapy, Speech Therapy, Psychologist, etc) in excess of the benefit plan maximums, Major Dental or Orthodontic coverage, Laser Eye Surgery, etc.  There is no additional cost to having the Cost Plus benefit, other than the administrative fees* and taxes incurred when a claim is made.  Claims are not reflected in the group’s experience, so it doesn’t impact the pricing of your benefit plan.

Example:

The child of an executive requires $3,000 of Orthodontic Treatment.  The Benefit Plan covers Basic Dental coverage only.

Assumptions:
  • Marginal tax rate is 43%
  • Cost Plus claim would cost $3,000 plus a 10% administration fee* ($300) and applicable taxes for a total of $3,300 (+ taxes)
  • Corporate tax rate for this business is 15%
Without Cost Plus:
  • Executive must earn $5,300 to have $3,000 after tax dollars to pay the expense
With Cost Plus:
  • Business pays the Cost Plus claim with $3,300 (+ taxes) in corporate funds
  • $3,300 is tax deductible for the business
  • Executive receives $3,000 in non-taxable benefits
  • With a 15% tax rate the net cost to the business after tax is only $2,805
The Result:

With Cost Plus coverage, the cost to the executive is reduced to $2,805 and is paid for by the business.  The expense has been paid for in a tax effective manner and the executive has received $3,000 in tax-free benefits.

* Administrative fees range from 10 to 15% and minimums and maximums may apply from different insurers.

Owners/Shareholders should consult their accountant or tax advisor for more details on how this benefit may apply to them. Taxation rules and interpretations are constantly changing and this example should not be taken as tax advice.

Note:

  1. Effective January 1, 2013 CRA views trading bonuses for flex credits (HSA) as taxable benefits
  2. CRA may deem that the application of cost-plus for shareholders only may result in a taxable benefit and negate the benefits of a cost plus claim

COVID-19 has brought a lot of uncertainty, but as always, we are here for our clients!

Our priority is ensuring that our clients know that we are available to help with recent developments as they pertain to your insurance needs. In order to ensure the safety and comfort of our staff, effective March 23rd all staff will be working remotely but we are always just a phone call or email away. We want you to know that we have measures in place at this time to ensure minimal business disruption and we are working with all insurance companies to understand the full effect on group and personal insurance plans.

Please click here for some additional information as it pertains to COVID-19 and Life & Health Insurance.

 

Be safe and healthy and reach out anytime.